Police are investigating the mysterious death of a competitive poker player, Susie Zhao, whose body was recently found in a Michigan park. The “badly burned” body of 33-year-old Zhao was found just after 8:00 a.m. on July 13 in the parking lot of a state park, police said in a news release.
The police in White Lake Township issued a press release on July 20 seeking the public’s assistance with the ongoing investigation. The release states that Zhao’s death is “mysterious” and it asks anyone who may have seen Zhao between July 11 and July 13 to contact Detective Lt. Christopher Hild at 248-698-4404, ext. 2381. Her body was found at the state land’s parking lot located on Maceday Lake Road and Cross Road in White Lake Township, which is just north of the Detroit suburbs.
Zhao’s cause of death has not yet been provided and WDIV reports that the autopsy and toxicology results from the Oakland County Medical Examiner are still pending. The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
Zhao Was a Competitive Poker Player Described as an ‘Excellent Player’ With ‘So Much Spirit’
Zhao was a professional poker player who made $224,671 in total tournament earnings, according to The Hendon Mob database. She made money in several World Series of Poker Main Events, including in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
Her fellow poker players described her as a vivacious person who also liked to enjoy herself while playing poker. Clayton Fletcher wrote, “She was one of the bubbliest and most vivacious opponents I’ve ever had. She was a very strong player who also liked to have fun at the table… I’m heartbroken reading this. RIP Susie Zhao.”
Bart Hanson, one of Zhao’s friends and a fellow poker player, told WXYZ, “She really was [an] excellent player. One of the best in L.A. at the level we played at the Commerce Casino and it’s the biggest poker room in the world. I never would have thought anyone would [have] wanted to do anything to her.”
Poker player Allen Kessler wrote, “So sad to hear the news that one of my long time poker friends Susie Zhao was found dead. Only 33 years old. So tragic. We were just chatting the other day on Facebook messenger about coping with the quarantine. Rest in peace Susie.”
Zhao Had Recently Moved Back to Michigan to Spend Time With Her Family, Her Friend Said
One of Zhao’s friends and a former roommate, Yuval Bronshtein, told WXYZ that the poker player usually spent time between different cities such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She had recently moved back to Michigan where her family lives to spend time with her parents and “confront challenges in her personal life,” the outlet reported. Bronshtein said he’s feeling “Surprised, confused, and saddened. It’s hard to picture her having enemies.”
Zhao’s Facebook profile indicates that she attended Cranbrook Kingswood school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, before going to Northwestern University, where she studied psychology. Her profile states she’s originally from Beijing, China, and lived in Los Angeles. According to an interview with Card Player, Zhao had the Poker Academy in 2017 as a cash game coach.